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Katherine Bonafide, Ph.D., Kaitlin Flannery, Ph.D.
Researchers have long studied the connection between sexual health practices and sexual health communication. While current research has examined communication between same-gender friends, it is lacking between cross-gender friends. To test whether differences exist between same-gender and cross-gender friends in their frequency of communication and comfort discussing sexual health, 187 college-aged participants (Mage=20.10, SD=1.34; 49.2% female; 75% White) self-reported their experiences using a Qualtrics survey. Results from independent samples t-tests revealed that same-gender friends reported more frequent discussion of both non-sex-related issues (M=2.53, SD=.51) and sex-related issues (M=1.20, SD=.73) than cross-gender friends (M=2.30, SD=.50; M=.95, SD=.70 respectively), tnonsex(185)=-2.54, p=.012; tsex(185)=-1.98, p=.049. However, no significant differences were observed in the comfort levels between same-gender friends (M=5.46, SD=.54) and cross-gender friends (M=5.37, SD=.62) when discussing sexual health topics, t(178)=.871, p=.385. These findings illustrate the importance of understanding friendships in order to effectively promote sexual health behaviors among college populations.
Cross-gender friendships, sexual health communication